Yep, you read it here first. It’s not a requirement to put your kids through school to be considered a good parent. In fact, it’s 100% cool if you can’t afford to save for college, and footing the bill could actually hinder your child.
Just think about all the things a kid can do to get themselves in trouble when they’re away from the nest for the first time. Now, imagine there’s a test to study for or a party to attend. Hmm…I’m willing to bet a kid with a full parental ride might toss the books and throw back a few drinks. Of course this isn’t true of all children who are fortunate enough to have their parents foot the entirety of their higher ed bill. But, it certainly does happen. With that said, I’m here to tell you that it’s okay if you can’t afford to save for college! Stop worrying. They’ll be okay. Now, get some sleep! Just kidding. Keep reading…
You’re No A Bad Parent If You Can’t Afford To Save For College
One ridiculous expectation floating around the parental universe these days is that you must save for college. I really want my readers to know that it’s absolutely okay if you can’t afford it. And, it’s absolutely okay to take care of yourself FIRST. In fact, it’s not selfish to take care of yourself first – It’s the smartest thing you can do. Really. Taking care of yourself first means funneling your money first towards priorities like basic living expenses, the possible purchase of a home, and most importantly, saving for retirement.
Related: I Lived Tiny To Afford College
Save For Retirement Instead Of College
If you’re anything like a lot of parents out there trying to get their finances on the right track, you’re wondering how on earth you’re going to juggle all the necessities AND save for college and retirement. Well, you can cross college off the list until everything else is taken care of first. And if you’re still in a position where you can’t afford to save for college, that’s okay. No long-term damage will be done to any child just because they lack a college fund. In fact, it could actually help them to become more fiscally responsible and work harder to achieve their goals.
If you’re struggling to put money away for your future but you’re also panicked about not having established a college account for your kids, you need to STOP. Breathe. And realize that saving for your own retirement should be just a notch below spending money on food and shelter.
The Importance Of Your Financial Future
Without a plan in place for retirement, you might end up working well into your golden years. There won’t be any time for grandkids if you’re busy asking someone if they want fries with that. Sorry, but it does happen – and it doesn’t have to happen to you!
Retirement savings need to trump college savings Every. Single. Time. Trust me, your kid will thank you when they don’t have to foot your basic living expenses when they’re trying to buy a house and have kids of their own. Unfortunately, Mr. MMM and I are in this very situation. My mother and father did not save for their future; now, we’re bank rolling a lot of living expenses and medical bills for my mother. Thankfully, we can do it, but it’s still quite a chunk that’s going out each month. So please, put yourself and your financial future Above All Else.
Parties All The Time
Enough tip-toeing around, let’s delve into some auxiliary benefits of not being able to afford to save for college:
- First, you will likely be able to save a decent amount for your own retirement.
- You might also be able to pay your house off before you retire – assuming you went ahead and took the real estate plunge at some point in your adult life.
- Probably the biggest benefit of all – your kid might not party their little butts off when they do get to college. (I know I put my education first because I knew I was paying for it and I didn’t want to waste my time or my money.)
What I Learned By Paying For College
True story, my parents didn’t save a dime towards my college education. Interestingly, I’m sitting here today working for a major, global corporation with a master’s degree in my chosen field of study. Not too shabby for starting out at a community college (part-time) while working at a factory soldering electrical components together at 19 years old. I’d say paying for my own education worked in my favor. Oh! I forgot to mention that, because they didn’t pay for my education, I was much more mindful of how much I was spending and chose schools according to my nearly non-existent budget.
Put Yourself First
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for saving for college and paying for college tuition if you are in a position to do so without hindering your own financial future. The skyrocketing costs of a higher education are matching or even exceeding the price of a home. If that isn’t nuts, I don’t know what is!
So again, I am here to let you know that you’re not a bad parent if you can’t afford to pay for college. Let go of the guilt and know that, by taking care of your own debts and financial future, you’ll be giving your children a wonderful gift. Besides, what good is paying for college if you won’t be able to afford groceries in your 70s?
There is no doubt about it, if you’re raising college-bound kids, you most certainly feel some sort of societal pressure to pay as much as you can of that bill, regardless of cost to you. But whatever you do, know that you’re not a bad parent just because you can’t afford to save for college. Do NOT deprive yourself of a stable financial future. You do NOT need to keep up with The Joneses. Remember, The Joneses are broke. Now, go forth and put yourself first!
What are your thoughts on this topic? Are you in a situation where you’re feeling guilty because you haven’t been able to fund a college account for your children?